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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 February 2014
I had read Bronze Summer and thought that this book could not get much more depressing. Well, it's a close call.
I was interested to see how the alternative history caused by saving Doggerland from the rising sea at the end of the last Ice Age would play out in the final book. This is a long enough book that I was reading it over several evenings, and finally I just decided to finish it one afternoon so I would not keep on being depressed while going to bed.

Bronze Summer gave us a Bronze Age with early iron workings, and the spread of potatoes across Europe. There was constant famine, warfare, plague, betrayal, sexual assault and murder.

In Iron Winter at least we were spared most of the violence against women. All the rest is there though. The people who have not managed to make glass, have yet managed to harness coal and steam to run railways across the continent and the giant Wall. I was sure that glass would be needed for gauges and so on to make steam engines that would not explode.
The setting is around our 1300s in which the Little Ice Age brought years without summer; it killed off the Danish inhabitants settling Greenland, leaving only the hunting Inuit people to subsist. Read Jane Smiley's 'The Greenlanders' for an excellent account. In Iron Winter however the ice, and glaciers, just keep on coming, so that a new Ice Age makes farming life impossible in Eurasia.
I was thinking, oh no, not the Hatti again. I didn't like them in the last book and didn't really want to read more about them.
We see various people in different situations, but few of them are sympathetic enough that we care what happens. Many seemed to be the same characters from the previous book. Names are often awkward and one scholar makes a journey to Cathay, accompanied by a Greenlander and a young man. The young man shows the best example of personal growth - others are just humbled by new uncertain situations and bow to survive. Or don't adapt much, and die.

This story will interest students of geopolitics, although I could not see why the Normans didn't exist and why the Romans didn't beat down Carthage. Vikings were raiding Ireland in the 1000s and settling its major river mouths. Ireland and Normans don't get a mention.

If the author had not chosen to tell such grinding tales and bring his world to an end, he could have been selling us cheerfully inventive alternate histories for many more books. I guess that was his choice, and I hope he chooses to write something more positive next time.
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on 2 June 2013
This is the final book in the Northland saga.

The glaciers have returned, and the Northlanders world is being gripped by ice. Mass migration bring forth war between nations, and plague kills those that the cold does not get.

Rina and her children travel from Northland to warmer climes, and she finds there that the status she enjoyed is nothing no, and she works as a simple servant, her sone in the army, and her daughter offering care to the plague victims. Pyxaes, an uncle, is one of the sharpest minds of his generation, and he understands the reason why the ice has returned, and travels to the Khan of the Steppes to meet with other scholars to compare theories. He returns with a secret that can bring devastation, but also peace to the warring nations.

This is the most dramatic book in the series, and Baxter manages to convey the pain and suffering of once great nations as they battle over diminishing food sources. He has used advances in technology to give then steam power, and other details like the Roman empire still having some influence.

The thing that annoyed me slightly is the gaps between each of the previous books and this one. To me a sequence should have a link; I know that the wall is the common thing, but it would have been nice to know that people were linked as well.
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VINE VOICEon 21 August 2012
For me, this series by Stephen Baxter is one that has not only given me a lot of reading pleasure but also taken me on a journey that has not only thrilled but enchanted me by taking one simple concept and expanding upon it. The writing as ever is wonderfully fresh, the characters within bringing the world to life and when added to the authors authorative writing style, really helps bring it all to the fore.

Add to that great prose, a wonderful arc and of course pace that keeps it moving with the inclusion of climate changes to help bring a level of reality which all in makes this a series that I generated one hell of a ride from start to finish. Great stuff.
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on 13 August 2013
Having been a fanatical Stephen Baxter fan for years. Really enjoyed Stone Spring and the alternate history based on the Wall. I found Bronze Summer the worst book Stephen Baxter as written and in my review of the book hoped that the final book would rebuild his excellent and thought provoking story telling. Thankfully Iron Winter does in fact do this. An excellent read with good threads between the characters. I was sad to get to the end f the book. Thanks for getting back on track
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on 27 April 2014
Baxter's Northland trilogy ends uncomfortably with war and famine, massive population movement and desperate struggles for resources. Al an alternate 13th century version of what we in our world face over the next century or two. Then the ice returns.. Like I say. no happy endings.I can see why Baxter took Alldiss' "Heliconia" as his model !
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on 23 June 2013
This follows on from Stone Spring and Bronze Summer. The story was a surprising view of alternative history, but I found the complex strands built up over the trilogy and large cast rather hard work for a leisure read.
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on 26 November 2015
A great continuation (and ending) to books 1 and 2. And better in my view than Book 2, in part because it insists more on the story than on harsh treatments of characters by others.
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on 16 January 2013
Less graphic violence, and far more intriguing. I particularly appreciated the ending that had a haunting echo of the Spanish arrival in the Americas, in our world.
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on 30 December 2012
It took me a while to get into this story - it is so unusual - but once I had read the first few chapters I was hooked ! I hope the following books are as good
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on 16 July 2014
purchased for a gift, packaging just right
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